81 seconds! The Dallas Mavericks held the lead for just 81 seconds of 96 total minutes in back-to-back games against the Charlotte Hornets.
81 seconds against the NBA team with the fourth worst record and the most inefficient offense of all teams in the best basketball league in the world, which also has little interest in winning due to the chances of Victor Wembanyama.
It was two embarrassing performances by the Mavs – further figures only illustrate the disaster. In the first meeting last Friday, an embarrassing 109-117 loss, the Mavericks allowed 48 percent shooting from the field. Already in the first quarter you conceded 37 points.
“It was terrible,” said head coach Jason Kidd: “It’s just disappointing.”
But anyone who, after the embarrassing defeat against the Hornets, believed that in the next meeting the players would be hot for revenge and it was just a slip-up, was taught a lesson. Dallas lost again, this time in Charlotte by 104-110.
Mavs lose twice to the Hornets
The two Hornets bankruptcies, each involving superstar duo Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving together, are part of a week to forget.
First there was a loss to the Grizzlies, then a home defeat to the Warriors, which was overshadowed by a protest from the hosts. This was followed by the said games against the Hornets. It’s little consolation that they finally managed to win again against the Indiana Pacers.
The once-ambitious franchise from Dallas, which even reached the finals of the Western Conference last season, has crashed. 37 wins now face 39 defeats.
In the table, this means eleventh place in the Western Conference and thus no longer even qualification for the play-in tournament of the playoffs.
Six games before the end of the regular season, the team around the superstar duo Doncic and Irving threatens to miss the playoffs. Even the Los Angeles Lakers, who have been ailing for a long time this season, are doing better now.
Doncic and Irving don’t work together
It’s not that long ago that everything was put on one card with the trade for Irving.
The point guard joined Markieff Morris from the Brooklyn Nets in early February — a costly affair for the Mavs. The team of owner Mark Cuban not only gave up Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith, but also a first-round pick for 2029 and a second-round pick each in 2027 and 2029 migrated to the Big Apple.
Together with superstar colleague Doncic, Irving should lead the Mavs to success. A plan that has far from worked out so far. Since Irving first picked up for the franchise, it has lost 13 games with just five wins. Although he missed five games, even when the star duo were on the floor together, the result was only a record of 4-8.
At the home game against the Hornets, fans expressed their disappointment with their team’s performance and mercilessly booed their team’s players. New signing Irving didn’t take the matter too seriously: “I played in New York City, so I know what it’s like.”
Dallas Mavericks: Doncic is not doing well at the moment
There is no doubt that Irving is an excellent basketball player. That he was not necessarily born to defend is also part of the truth.
And with that he joins the ranks of the other Mavs professionals – much to the chagrin of the fans. Defense work is not a big deal in Dallas, especially since Finney-Smith, one of the few defensively strong players, was handed over to Irving.
But the Mavs crisis has other facets. Even Luka Doncic is not currently at the peak of his work, despite all the numbers that are nice to look at.
Most importantly, he’s not doing well mentally. After the Hornets bankruptcy, he told US reporters that his private life was troubling him on the pitch. The Slovene didn’t reveal exactly what’s going on, but his words spoke volumes: “I used to have more fun, I smiled on the pitch. Right now it’s just frustrating for many reasons, not just basketball.”
And even at the management level you will find what you are looking for when it comes to troubleshooting. With Nico Harrison, a general manager is at work who is doing this job for the first time on an NBA team, and owner Cuban is also heavily involved.
In addition to the loss of Finney-Smith, the departure of Jalen Brunson is particularly painful. The Mavs could have extended the all-important guard before the season – but it was too expensive for them, which is why he signed long-term with the New York Knicks.
A mistake that you should regret for a long time.
Is it still possible to participate in the playoffs?
But what’s next?
Whether the Mavs can still reach the playoffs depends not only on themselves. In the meantime, the competition would have to fail to keep the dream of the playoffs alive.
And even if a place in the play-in tournament is achieved, how successful participation in it would be remains to be seen.
There is already speculation in the franchise’s fan scene as to whether, in view of the difficult situation, tanking might not be the best alternative. So the intentional losing to look better in the next draft.
Because only if the Mavs get a top 10 pick are they allowed to keep it this season, otherwise the New York Knicks get it because of the Porzingis trade.
Is Irving leaving for nothing?
And one thing is clear: Dallas needs to step up – a big man who is also strong on defense is essential for a better future. But it is not that easy. Shortly before the end of the season there are still various teams that have a significantly worse record.
And even if it works, would a pick on 8 or 9 only help to a limited extent if it is not even clear whether Doncic and/or Irving will still be there to lead the squad next year?
The Slovenian is currently frustrated and unhappy, does he think he has long-term chances of a league title with the Mavs? Not clear!
With Irving, the situation is even more precarious. A lot was invested in his arrival, but he will become an unrestricted free agent in the summer. Apparently, it doesn’t work very well with him on the field, giving him up without much consideration would be a super meltdown in business.
If the postseason is missed, he could be interested in leaving anyway, although Irving’s really hard to predict.
In any case, there is currently a lot at stake for the Mavs. The short-term, but also the long-term future. It takes smart decisions – and games where the team leads by more than 81 seconds.